Jean Dale (nee Beales) studied cookery at the college in 1952-53.
Here Jean recounts her memories of her time at the college, at a time when post-war scarcity still affected the availability of certain produce. She tells the story of the journey her love of cooking led her on and in which the family business, Frank Dale foods, has maintained links with the college and its students.
Following my love for the art of cookery
I can’t believe it is over 60 years since I started at City College at the age of sixteen in the early 1950’s. Brought up on a farm, I was encouraged by my parents to study the subject I was most interested in which was the art of cookery… and still is.
Making do in the post-war years
Oh how times have changed since then, certain foods were still on ration in those post war days, so you can imagine a lot of products and ingredients were not even available. Not to be beaten by the lack of supply, luckily there were some farmers daughters as students who managed to bring in fresh wild rabbits to replace the shortage of chicken.
The facilities in those days were very basic, two students had to share one oven. Each student was supplied with a cookery recipe book obtained from Battersea Polytechnic Domestic Science department. Priced 2/6d including postage and packaging.
Throughout the course Miss Curl, our tutor, selected one recipe per chapter until we had completed the book, I’ve always kept that book and some recipes I still use today.
On Fridays, some members of RAF Watton attended college for practical tuition.. and what a mess they left behind. Quite often students had to come in on a Saturday to clear up the mess!
Going into food manufacturing
I think now I will fast forward a few years after college to the 1960’s when I married and had a family of my own, living on a mixed farm south of Norwich, in the 70’s were growing arable crops, soft fruits and fresh vegetables which proved to be most useful when in the 1980’s we opened a small farm shop. Assisted by my very capable daughter Mandy we decided to start making a premium range of fruit pies and meat pies.
The demand for these products proved to be extremely successful, so much so, the business grew rapidly and our son Robert joined the business. His enthusiasm to develop a range of party foods soon took the business to a higher level and so in 1994 Frank Dale Foods was formed.
The range of party food that Robert developed was proving so popular that we realised this was the area we needed to expand in. We soon found ourselves supplying major frozen food wholesalers up and down the country, shortly after needing purpose-built food manufacturing premises, which we moved to in 2008. The success went on, so much so that the company is now supplying wholesalers and retailers not only in the UK but internationally.
Continuing involvement with City College Norwich
I am sure that the initial grounding I had at City College in the early 1950’s was the reason why we became successful in the food business, although having retired, there is now an excellent new general manager, with him and his management team at the helm of the business he is taking it into the next part of the journey and company’s expansion again in 2016.
I am so pleased that Frank Dale Foods has been involved with the college over the years especially when with the help of City College students we produced the Mini Victoria sponges for the Diamond Jubilee celebration of Queen Elizabeth II at Sandringham in 2012. What a marvellous combined effort that was. It’s a top class hotel and catering school now, I hope we can continue this relationship, supporting and encouraging young students, they are our future generation.